Chapter 5 - Of the Slaying of King Volsung.
Now tells the tale of King Volsung and his sons that they go at the time appointed to Gothland at the bidding of King Siggeir, and put off from the land in three
ships, all well manned, and have a fair voyage, and made Gothland late of an evening tide.
But that same night came Signy and called her father and brothers to a privy talk, and told them what she deemed King Siggeir was minded to do, and how that he
had drawn together an army no man may meet. "And," says she, "he is minded to do guilefully by you; wherefore I bid you get ye gone back again to your own land,
and gather together the mightiest power ye may, and then come back hither and avenge you; neither go ye now to your undoing, for ye shall surely fail not to fall
by his wiles if ye turn not on him even as I bid you."
Then spake Volsung the king, "All people and nations shall tell of the word I spake, yet being unborn, wherein I vowed a vow that I would flee in fear from
neither fire nor the sword; even so have I done hitherto, and shall I depart therefrom now I am old? Yea withal never shall the maidens mock these my sons at
the games, and cry out at them that they fear death; once alone must all men need die, and from that season shall none escape; so my rede is that we flee
nowhither, but do the work of our hands in as manly wise as we may; a hundred fights have I fought and whiles I had more, and whiles I had less, and yet even
had I the victory, nor shall it ever be heard tell of me that I fled away or prayed for peace."
Then Signy wept right sore, and prayed that she might not go back to King Siggeir, but King Volsung answered--
"Thou shalt surely go back to thine husband, and abide with him, howsoever it fares with us."
So Signy went home, and they abode there that night but in the morning, as soon as it was day, Volsung bade his men arise and go aland and make them ready for
battle; so they went aland, all of them all-armed, and had not long to wait before Siggeir fell on them with all his army, and the fiercest fight there was
betwixt them; and Siggeir cried on his men to the onset all he might; and so the tale tells that King Volsung and his sons went eight times right through
Siggeir's folk that day, smiting and hewing on either hand, but when they would do so even once again, King Volsung fell amidst his folk and all his men withal,
saving his ten sons, for mightier was the power against them than they might withstand.
But now are all his sons taken, and laid in bonds and led away; and Signy was ware withal that her father was slain, and her brothers taken and doomed to death,
that she called King Siggeir apart to talk with her, and said--
"This will I pray of thee, that thou let not slay my brothers hastily, but let them be set awhile in the stocks, for home to me comes the saw that says, "Sweet
to eye while seen": but longer life I pray not for them, because I wot well that my prayer will not avail me."
Then answered Siggeir:
"Surely thou art mad and witless, praying thus for more bale for thy brothers than their present slaying; yet this will I grant thee, for the better it likes me
the more they must bear, and the longer their pain is or ever death come to them."
Now he let it be done even as she prayed, and a mighty beam was brought and set on the feet of those ten brethren in a certain place of the wild-wood, and there
they sit day-long until night; but at midnight, as they sat in the stocks, there came on them a she-wolf from out the wood; old she was, and both great and evil
of aspect; and the first thing she did was to bite one of those brethren till he died, and then she ate him up withal, and went on her way.
But the next morning Signy sent a man to the brethren, even one whom she most trusted, to wot of the tidings; and when he came back he told her that one of them
was dead, and great and grievous she deemed it, if they should all fare in like wise, and yet naught might she avail them.
Soon is the tale told thereof: nine nights together came the she-wolf at midnight, and each night slew and ate up one of the brethren, until all were dead, save
Sigmund only; so now, before the tenth night came, Signy sent that trusty man to Sigmund, her brother, and gave honey into his hand, bidding him do it over
Sigmund's face, and set a little deal of it in his mouth; so he went to Sigmund and did as he was bidden, and then came home again; and so the next night came
the she-wolf according to her wont, and would slay him and eat him even as his brothers; but now she sniffs the breeze from him, whereas he was anointed with
the honey, and licks his face all over with her tongue, and then thrusts her tongue into the mouth of him. No fear he had thereof, but caught the she-wolf's
tongue betwixt his teeth, and so hard she started back thereat, and pulled herself away so mightily, setting her feet against the stock that all was riven
asunder; but he ever held so fast that the tongue came away by the roots, and thereof she had her bane.
But some men say that this same she-wolf was the mother of King Siggeir, who had turned herself into this likeness by troll's lore and witchcraft.
Nú er at segja frá Völsungi konungi ok sonum hans, at þeir fara at ákveðinni stundu til Gautlands at boði Siggeirs konungs, mágs síns, ok hafa þrjú
skip ór landi ok öll vel skipuð ok verða vel reiðfara ok koma skipum sínum við Gautland, en þat var síð um aptan.
En þann sama aptan kom Signý, dóttir Völsungs konungs, ok kallar föður sinn á einmæli ok bræður sína, segir nú ætlan sína ok Siggeirs konungs, at hann hefir dregit
saman óvígjan her, -- "ok ætlar at svíkja yðr. Nú bið ek yðr," segir hún, "at þér farið þegar aptr í yðart ríki ok fáið yðr lið sem mest ok farið hingat síðan ok
hefnið yðar sjálfir ok gangið eigi í ófæru, því at eigi missi þér svika af honum, ef eigi taki þér þetta bragð, sem ek beiði yðr."
Þá mælti Völsungr konungr: "Þat munu allar þjóðir at orðum gera, at ek mælta eitt orð óborinn, ok strengda ek þess heit, at ek skylda hvárki flýja
eld né járn fyrir hræðslu sakir, ok svá hefi ek enn gert hér til, ok hví munda ek eigi efna þat á gamals aldri? Ok eigi skulu meyjar því bregða sonum mínum í leikum,
at þeir hræðist bana sinn, því at eitt sinn skal hverr deyja, en engi má undan komast at deyja um sinn. Er þat mitt ráð, at vér flýjum hvergi ok gerum af várri
hendi sem hreystiligast. Ek hefi barizt hundrað sinnum, ok hefi ek haft stundum meira lið, en stundum minna, ok hefi ek jafnan sigr haft, ok eigi skal þat spyrjast,
at ek flýja né friðar biðja."
Nú grætr Signý sárliga ok bað, at hún skyldi eigi koma til Siggeirs konungs. Völsungr konungr svarar:
"Þú skalt at vísu fara heim til bónda þíns ok vera samt með honum, hversu sem með oss ferr."
Nú gengr Signý heim, en þeir búa eptir um nóttina. Ok um myrgininn, þegar er dagar, þá biðr Völsungr konungr upp standa sína menn alla ok ganga á land upp ok búast
við bardaga. Nú ganga þeir á land upp allir alvápnaðir, ok er eigi langt at bíða, áðr þar kemr Siggeirr konungr með allan sinn her, ok verðr þar in harðasta orrosta
með þeim, ok eggjar konungr lið sitt til framgöngu sem harðligast, ok er svá sagt, at Völsungr konungr ok synir hans gengu átta sinnum í gegnum fylkingar Siggeirs
konungs um daginn ok höggva á tvær hendr. Ok er þeir ætla enn svá at fara, þá fellr Völsungr konungr í miðri fylkingu sinni ok þar allt lið hans með honum nema synir
hans tíu, því at miklu meira ofrefli var í móti en þeir mætti við standa. Nú eru synir hans allir teknir ok í bönd reknir ok á brott leiddir.
Signý varð vör við, at faðir hennar var drepinn, en bræðr hennar höndum teknir ok til bana ráðnir. Nú kallar hún Siggeir konung á einmæli. Nú mælti
"Þess vil ek biðja þik, at þú látir eigi svá skjótt drepa bræðr mína ok látið þá heldr setja í stokk, ok kemr mér at því, sem mælt er, at unir auga, meðan
á sér, ok því bið ek þeim eigi lengra, at ek ætla, at mér muni ekki tjóa."
Þá svarar Siggeirr:
"Ær ertu ok örvita, er þú biðr bræðrum þínum meira böls en þeir sé höggnir en þó skal það veita þér, því at þess betr þykki mér, er þeir þola verra ok hafa lengri
kvöl til bana."
Nú lætr hann svá gera sem hún bauð, ok var tekinn einn mikill stokkr ok felldr á fætr þeim tíu bræðrum í skógi einhvers staðar, ok sitja þeir nú
þar þann dag allan til nætr. En at miðri nótt þá kom þar ylgr ein ór skógi gömul at þeim, er þeir sátu í stokkinum. Hún var bæði mikil ok illilig. Henni varð þat
fyrir, at hún bítr einn þeira til bana. Siðan át hún þann upp allan. Eptir þat fór hún í brott.
En eptir um morgininn þá sendi Signý mann til bræðra sinna, þann er hún trúði bezt, at vita, hvat títt sé. Ok er hann kemr aptr, segir hann henni, at dauðr sé einn
þeira. Henni þótti þetta mikit, ef þeir skulu svá fara allir, en hún mátti ekki duga þeim.
Skjótt er þar frá at segja. Níu nætr í samt kom sjá in sama ylgr um miðnætti ok etr einn þeira senn til bana, unz allir eru dauðir, nema Sigmundr
einn er eptir. Ok nú, áðr tíunda nótt kemr, sendir Signý trúnaðarmann sinn til Sigmundar, bróður síns, ok seldi í hönd honum hunang ok mælti, at hann skyldi ríða á
andlit Sigmundar ok leggja í munn honum sumt. Nú ferr hann til Sigmundar ok gerir sem honum var boðit ok fór heim síðan. Um nóttina eptir þá kemr sú in sama ylgr at
vanda sínum ok ætlaði at bíta hann til bana sem bræðr hans. En nú dregr hún veðrit af honum, þar sem hunangit var á riðit, ok sleikir andlit hans allt með tungu sér
ok réttir síðan tunguna í munn honum. Hann lætr sér verða óbilt ok beit í tunguna ylginni. Hún bregðr við fast ok hnykkir at sér hart ok rak fætrna í stokkinn, svá
at hann klofnaði allr í sundr, en hann helt svá fast, at tungan gekk ór ylginni upp í tungurótunum, ok fekk af því bana.
En þat er sögn sumra manna, at sú in sama ylgr væri móðir Siggeirs konungs ok hafi hún brugðit á sik þessu líki fyrir tröllskapar sakir ok fjölkynngi.